Some might find it helpful to see a map of our destination. We did a 7 Day/ 6 Night Cruise through the Western Islands. This popular route generally hits 11-12 from the list of the BIG 15 species people want to see in the Galápagos.
We started on Baltra, then stopped at North Seymour. On to Fernandina Island (misspelled on the map),then Isabela, Rabida and Santa Cruz. We visited Floreana before returning to Baltra.
We made it home yesterday, and all is well in Northport. Our bags were delivered this morning, so not too bad.
I have started posting about our trip … so please scan back whenever you jump on the blog, as I’ve already covered Quito and our arrival on the ship. I am including the date of the actual events at the top of each blog post. I hope to finish all the posts in the next few days, so I can get back to finishing blog posts about our last Alaska trip (blush/face palm).
Also hoping to get some of my fellow travelers to include a guest blog describing the adventure from their point of view.
My intention is to post all of the photos on my Smugmug site, and will post a link at the end of the trip report. Hopefully Lou will provide his photos as well. (Edit added 10/09/19 – I say the same thing every trip, and have yet to follow through in a consistent way. I’m making good progress so don’t give up hope!)
Wake up calls at the Hotel Gangotena started at 3:30am (depending on whether or not one planned to curl their hair and apply makeup before breakfast at 4:30am; I got up at 4:25am). Two busses loaded 48 passengers for the hour ride back to the Quito Airport.
The Quito Airport is new and modern. Check in went smoothly, and we had a short wait at the gate for our 4 hour trip to the Baltra Airport on the Galápagos Islands. The plane stopped once for fuel and passengers.
Upon landing, a 5 minute bus ride took us to a small port where we took a Panga ride to our boat … the Yacht La Pinta. Note -a Panga is a rubber sided dinghy, like a Zodiac.
A young Galapagos Sea Lion (or Fur Seal) was excited to see us off, and we saw more wildlife on our short ride to La Pinta.
We safely transfered ourselves off the Pangas and onto the ship. More information on the ship can be found here: Yacht La Pinta
We were met with welcome cocktails and given a brief overview of the ship and the day’s activities. After a buffet lunch, we participated in the mandatory safety drill and got acquainted with our life vests. Our rooms were nice. Lou and I had a queen sized bed, while Catherine and Olivia had twinlets (slightly narrower than twins). Both rooms had a decent sized bathroom, and a floor to ceiling window. The accommodations were more luxurious than on our previous UnCruise Advemtures.
Catherine, Olivia, and Claudia opted to take the first off-boat adventure, going for a hike on North Seymour Island. Amy and I both had bum ankles to deal with, so we were nervous about twisting them on the rocky terrain. Lou came on the trip knowing his land activities would be limited due to his recent knee replacement.
The ladies returned, glowing with excitement at the fun things they had seen. I hope to entice Claudia to share some of her wonderful photos and videos of this first foray into the midst of Galápagos wildlife.
Picking up after our walking tour of Quito … we took a bus to a famous local restaurant called El Ventana. The “Window” was located high on a hill with beautiful nighttime views of Quito. This was a pleasant evening and a chance to mingle with our fellow UnCruisers. The food was not the highlight tonight 🙂
Click HERE to follow us as we set off for the land of the giant tortoises and more.
After the Museum, we walked through one of the many streets where almost every building hosted small stores on the ground floor. There were also many street vendors set up, selling fresh vegetables, fruits, and more. People were friendly, and while they suggested you buy their wares, they were not insistent.
We made our way to a large indoor market, where many different items were for sale. The size and color of the vegetables and fruits showed the richness of the soil.
This nice lady gave us samples of small bananas and a passion fruit to sample:
Nothing goes to waste … you could buy pre-packaged or freshly made cheese as well:
Ecuador is known for its beautiful roses, and these were on display:
We finished in the market, and continued our walk to the restaurant where we would have lunch. Along the way, we stopped at a small shop where a man was making a special treat … sugar covered peanuts. He said his family had owned the same shop for 53 years. The peanuts were very very sweet, covered in a dense powdered sugar mixture.
Lunch was at a very nice resturant, called the Cafe Plaza Grande. The specialty of the house was an ice cream dessert, served atop a bowl of dry ice. It was served by a villain in a purple hooded costume.
Don’t worry … there are no purple Klan members in Ecuador. Quito is famous for their Good Friday Easter procession during which Cucuruchos (men wearing hooded purple robes) carry heavy crosses and walk barefoot through the old town.
Our tour continued after lunch with visits to the Center of Old Town and to a cathedral and a very ornate church (names to be inserted). Quito is widely acknowledged as one of the best preserved colonial cities in the Americas. It was the first city in the world to be named a World Heritage City by UNESCO, in recognition of its beauty, architecture and culture. The very ornate churches are excellent examples of the baroque style and are some of the best examples in Latin America.
The first cathedral we visited as under extensive renovation, but the highlight was the view of the city from the balcony.
We could clearly have spent more time exploring Quito, and I would highly recommend a visit to this beautiful city.
We were split into 4 groups of 12 for the walking tour and our group was altogether. Lou opted to stay at the Hotel to rest his knee. We first went to a museum where they had many excellent examples of Pre-Columbian Art – Casa del Alabado. A knowledgeable friendly guide walked us through the exhibitions. There was also a special exhibit about pigmentation in art which was very interesting.
We were impressed by how the items on exhibit were so well preserved. Our guide explained the cultural significance of each type of art as we moved through the exhibit.
In this photo, our guide illustrates Pre-Columbian technology. When water is added, the apparatus makes a whistling sound much like a bird
More beautiful exhibits:
Part of the special exhibit on pigmentation … this display showed how shells and various ores and minerals were used to provide coloration to jewelry and other artifacts.
We very much much enjoyed our hour long tour and could have spent more time in the museum. This was supposed to be an optional part of our tour in the afternoon, but it was moved up to the morning. This is because Vice President Pence was visiting Quito, causing some rearranging of our touring plans (I am glad this was in the morning, as I might have skipped it in the afternoon)